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GOP-drawn map in Utah has no competitive House districts

Lawmakers sidelined ‘independent’ panel voters approved

GOP Reps. Burgess Owens, left and John Curtis each face reelection races in Utah rated Solid Republican by analyst Nathan L. Gonzales.
GOP Reps. Burgess Owens, left and John Curtis each face reelection races in Utah rated Solid Republican by analyst Nathan L. Gonzales. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Utah is a good example of why it’s important to read the fine print. While the Beehive State technically had an independent redistricting commission, it had been stripped of its authority and Utah ended up with a partisan map just like many other states. 

Even though Utah hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, Utah voters have sent at least one Democratic House member to Washington for 38 of those intervening 57 years. But Republican Burgess Owens’ victory in 2020 and the incoming GOP-drawn map is likely to keep Democrats on the outside looking in for the next decade. 

In 2018, Utahans voted (albeit very narrowly) to wrest control of the redistricting process from the state Legislature and hand it to a newly created independent commission. GOP state legislators subsequently made the commission advisory, putting themselves back in charge of drawing the new map. 

[More House race ratings | Initial Senate race ratings]

Republicans utilized that power by dividing Salt Lake County, the state’s population hub and most Democratic area, into each of Utah’s four districts, diluting Democratic voters. 

Previously, the 4th District, which has been the most competitive seat in the state, voted for President Donald Trump 52 percent to 43 percent. The newly drawn 4th District, represented by Owens, would have voted for Trump by 26 points, 60 percent to 34 percent. 

And Trump would have won the other seats with similarly high marks, including 57 percent in the 1st, 56 percent in the 2nd and 57 percent in the 3rd. And those percentages might understate the GOP lean because of Trump’s lack of appeal to some voters who are also a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

But overall, it means all four races start rated as Solid Republican and Owens and his fellow Reps. Blake D. Moore, Chris Stewart and John Curtis start as heavy favorites for reelection. 

Races rated Solid Republican

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

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